The only points-scoring opportunity in the American Road to the Kentucky Derby Series during the seven weeks between October 7 and November 25 is, of course, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on November 4. There have been four series preps contested already, and it appears the winners of all of them are in line to contest the 1 1/16-mile feature at Del Mar.
Victory in the Juvenile has not translated particularly well to success on the first Saturday in May, with Street Sense (2006-07) and Nyquist (2015-16) the only two to turn the double in 33 years. Nonetheless, the 20 qualifying points awarded to the winner will give the likely juvenile champion a solid foundation to grab what might potentially be only 17 slots available for domestically-trained contenders.
FrontRunner (G1) winner Bolt d’Oro (10 points) figures to be a strong favorite in the Juvenile as he crushed that field at Santa Anita. He also has a win over the track in the Del Mar Futurity (G1), a stakes double last achieved by eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Solomini (4), a distant second in the FrontRunner, should improve off that effort, which happened to be his first against winners following a debut score at Del Mar.
Two of the past four Juveniles held in California have gone to colts based east of the Mississippi River. Those were Shanghai Bobby (2012) and Classic Empire (2016), so that gives some glimmer of hope to the other two-year-olds with 10 points on the Kentucky Derby (G1) leaderboard.
Trainer Dale Romans and jockey Robby Albarado narrowly missed in last year’s Juvenile with Not This Time, and the combo’s Free Drop Billy (10) looked well at home around two turns when taking the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland by open lengths.
Firenze Fire (10) upset the Champagne (G1) around one turn at Belmont Park over the maiden Good Magic (4) following a sub-par showing in the Hopeful (G1), which was subsequently attributed to illness. The latter is generally considered a good bet to improve around two turns.
The first points earner in the series was The Tabulator (10), who trains up to the Juvenile after winning the September 16 Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs. He’ll need to quicken against this superior group.